Ira Keller Fountain
Designer: Lawrence Halprin, Angela Danadjieva
Scale: Portland, Oregon
Era: 1970 - Present
Lawrence Halprin was a great architect who pushed the design of America’s urban spaces in new directions after World War II. He is best known for crafting the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C. Halprin had a profound influence on the revival of Portland after World War II, when many American families transitioned into the suburbs. Halprin became interested in the way users move through public space after marrying Anna Schuman, an accomplished dancer. The Forecourt Fountain, later named the Ira Keller Fountain was designed in 1968 and constructed in 1970 in Portland, Oregon by Lawrence Halprin, and Angela Danadjieva, a designer at the Lawrence Halprin & Associates. The two visionary landscape architects brought modern design to land.
The fountain introduced a new style to an urban environment by bringing an interactive natural waterfall-like structure into the city, creating an urban refuge and gathering place for the community. The complex is made up of eight blocks that interconnect with urban corridors. The fountain pools are made of reinforced concrete that contain 280,000 liters of water. In Danadjieva and Halprin’s design, geometric shapes were utilized to mimic the nearby Cascade Mountains. The square, rectangular, deep and shallow pools made from concrete overlap, offering proximity to the water without saturating the viewer. The low protective wall under the waterfalls create secret stepping stones on each side of the cascade, generating a unique experience for the viewer. The fountain is a paradox, both urban and natural. Considering postwar American architecture, Halprin’s work made a vital contribution to landscape design, urban planning, street architecture, and infrastructure design by incorporating environmental aspects, eventually helping shape an era.
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